CP Historical Timeline

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1885, March 31 Mr. David Hall McConnell, son of James McConnell and Isabella Hall, married Miss Lucy Hays, daughter of Ford Hays and Harriet Johnson of La Porte, Indiana. They were married in the home of Lucy's sister in Chicago, immediately after which D. H. McConnell brought his new bride to New York.
1886, June The history of  the California Perfume Company begins with Mr. David H. McConnell purchasing the Union Publishing Company (the firm to which McConnell was employed) located in a small office about 20 x 25 feet in size, at 126 Chambers Street, New York City. By 1894, the CPC utilized all six floors at the 126 Chambers Street building.


Historical Notes:

  - The Caspar's Directory of the American Book: News and Stationery Trade written by Carl Nicolas in 1889, recognizes D. H. McConnell as the manager of the Union Publishing House, New York since 1882. Other company officials identified are H. E. Hayes and L. McConnell (Lucy McConnell).

  - D. H. McConnell writes to his parents on 6 July 1888 on Union Publishing House stationary that identifies McConnell as the Treasurer and General Manager.

  - The Tribeca South Historic District Extension Designation Report authored by Donald G. Presa and published 19 November 2002 identifies the following occupants for 126 Chambers Street, New York with the associated dates:
     1890-1895 Union Publishing House.
     1890-1905 David H. McConnell - publishing.

  - The Union Publishing House, New York, publishes Picturesque Hawaii in 1894.

  - In the 29 March, 1895 edition of the New York Times, it was reported that Miss Josephine Sawyer, a young woman employed as typewriter by the Union Publishing House, 126 Chambers Street, distinguished herself yesterday morning (28 March 1895) by saving David H. McConnell, the President of the company, from possible death by fire. (see full article here)

  - The Union Publishing House, New York, publishes Headlights On The Highway in 1896.
1892 With the suggestion of his business partner and previous employer, Mr. C. L. Snyder, who was living in California at the time, McConnell changes the name of the business to "California Perfume Company". The new name coincides with McConnell's change in company direction to the exclusive manufacture and sale of perfumes, extracts, and other households consumables. More importantly, the name provides the allusion to far away Californian fields, filled with beautiful flowers.
1892 While seeking an attractive and desirable product to place in hands of his lady Travellers [sic] and Depot Agents, McConnell lights upon a box of Perfumery, three bottles and an atomizer, calling it The Little Dot Box, put up by Mr. H. H. Sawyer. This set becomes the precursor of the California Perfume Company's hugely successful Flowers Set.
1893 The Tooth Tablet, Witch Hazel, and a few toiletries are added to the original line of five perfumes.
1893 D. H McConnell and wife, Lucy (Hays), move to Suffern, New York.
1893-1894 McConnell sets up 1600 sq. ft. temporary quarters in Suffern for manufacturing at the same location of the later Suffern plant structure.
1895 Luzerne Branch Distribution office opens, managed by J. D. Tiffany; the branch was closed in 1934.
1895 San Francisco, California office opens at 506 Mission Street; managed by George J. McConnell (brother). The office is destroyed by fire during the earthquake on 18 April, 1906. The office was immediately reopened on the corner of 16th Street and Landers Street in San Francisco.


Historical Notes:

  - Based on accepted documentation and timelines, the San Francisco branch was ALWAYS thought to have been established in 1898; however, the discovery of three California Perfume Company shipping invoices dating from November to December, 1895, identify three locations; New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
1896 David H. McConnell secures the services of top New York perfumer Mr. Adolph Goetting (pronounced getting) as the Chemist-in-Chief at Suffern Laboratory. McConnell purchases Goetting's company and continues manufacture and distribution of these fine perfumes under the Goetting label through at least 1918.
1896 Dallas, Texas and Davenport, Iowa Branch Distribution offices open.


Historical Notes:

  - The April 23, 1899 edition of the Davenport Daily Republican relates that the California Perfume Company's Davenport branch office employed three ladies, "placing their goods at present, with Mrs. A. Meyer in charge." Interestingly, the article then indicated two Davenport addresses: 1404 West Third street (Mrs. A. Meyer) and Room 26, Petersen block with Miss Jennie Kneeland. The Davenport branch controlled the central division and employed traveling agents to locate agencies in various towns.
1896, 2 November First catalog published - text only. See the letter written to the Depot Agents announcing the new catalog.
1897 The new Laboratory is built in Suffern, New York, greatly expanding operations and manufacturing capability.


Historical Notes:

  - According to the March 20, 1897 edition of the NYACK CITY AND COUNTRY Newspaper, D. H. McConnell, a resident of Suffern, New York for several years, purchased a lot from Mrs. John Turner for the purposes of erecting a building two stories high, 30 x 50 feet and frame. The building contract was let to Harley Wanamaker. The intention is to transfer McConnell's fancy soap and perfumery manufactory in New York city to this new building in Suffern.

  - In historical accounts by D. H. McConnell, Sr., dated 15 April 1936, McConnell noted that, "while building [the Suffern plant], he was afraid he would not have enough business [with the California Perfume Company] to keep this huge place occupied, so he added a porch for the reason that, if the business failed, he could still sell the Laboratory for a home.
1897, 10 November Second catalog published - included hand-drawn illustrations.
1898 Begin use of the Eureka Trademark.
1901 McConnell publishes The Authentic Life of William McKinley under the California Perfume Company banner as a memorial to his personal friend, William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, after McKinley was assassinated on 6 September 1901. The book is canvassed from 7 October, 1901 to 15 November, 1901 through the Depot Agents at a retail cost of $1.50 for cloth binding and $2.00 for keratol morroco binding.
1903 McConnell writes "A Brief History of the California Perfume Company". A condensed version of this autobiography and company history is reprinted as the "The Great Oak" in 1945 and sent to all the representatives.
1903 Kansas City, Missouri Branch office opened; Dallas and Davenport Branches closed.
1903 The California Perfume Company employs 125 people in the Suffern factory; 48 General Agents (District or City Managers); and over 10,000 industrious and energetic Depot Managers (Sale Representatives).
1905, 3 April First Outlook representative magazine is published.
1906, March First Advertisement: Roses Perfume in the March, 1906 Edition of Good Housekeeping.
1906, October First full color catalog is produced entitled, "The CP Book," A Comprehensive and authoritative guide to the intelligent selection and use of Milady's Toilet Articles and other Household Necessities by Myron Leroy. Note: According to the January, 1907 Outlook magazine, "'THE C P BOOK'...is illustrated in colors, and gives a correct and concise description of every article in the list. In addition, it contains valuable information for beautifying the complexion, hands, teeth, etc., and the proper care of the body in general." The is very similar  to the For You and Your Home customer catalogs of the late-1920's and 1930's. Furthermore, no other full color catalogs were published until the large Color Plate Catalogs in late-1915 through 1929.
1908, 15 October First issue of the CPC Bulletin is published. The last Bulleting was published in February, 1928. Note: For a short time (~1918-1919) during the World War I period, the CPC Bulletin was either supplemented with, or replaced by, a similar periodical of the same length and content entitled, "CPC News."
1909, 3 May CPC moves to 31 Park Place, New York.
1913, December First catalog (1914 edition) published with four-page color insert.
1914, February Montreal, Canada office and laboratory opens; managed by Charles C. Stewart.
1915, 1 March Initiation of the California Perfume Co. Employees' S & L Association.
    The New York Stock Chartered California Perfume Co. Employees' S & L Association
    was liquidated in 1939 (according to New York Bank History section of Scripophily.com.)
1915, 14 June CPC wins a Gold Medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1914-1915. The CPC was awarded this honored distinction for both for the quality of its entire line of products, and the beauty of the packages. The Gold Medal was seen on almost all CPC packaging from late-1915 through about the early-1930's.
1915 Color Plate Catalogs are first used. These larger, colorful catalogs illustrate most of the CPC products from perfumes to metal cleaners. The stiff-backed catalogs measured 10 1/2 x 15 7/8 inches.
1916, 27 January The CPC is incorporated in the state of New York to manufacture perfumes, flavoring extracts, fruit juices, and household supplies; with a reported capital of $75,000.
1916 William Scheele, Secretary and General Manager of the CPC writes The Story of the CPC.
1920 Sales exceed $1,000,000.
1922 San Francisco Branch closes with the retirement of George McConnell; operations move to Kansas City.
1923 The Perfection line of household products is introduced. Included in the first products are a Coloring Set; Baking Powder, and Flavoring Extracts.
1926, 10 August CPC moves to 114 Fifth Avenue, New York.
1928, May The Avon line of products introduced — the First Avon Product: a Toothbrush. Other Avon products introduced in 1928 include a Powdered Cleanser, Men's Talcum Powder, a Gift Atomizer, and a Vanity Set.
1929 The Avon line of cosmetics are introduced.
1931, January The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is awarded to the first eight items submitted by the CPC. By 1936, all CPC products are tested, approved, and bear the prestigious Seal of Approval.
1932, 1 August Initiation of the 3-Week Campaign; before this time, representatives were encouraged to send in orders on a monthly basis.
1935, 4 March Avon Radio Program "Friends" begins. Broadcasting throughout the United States twice weekly for at least 15 weeks, the program—honoring the David Hall and Lucy McConnell's 50th Wedding Anniversary—was meant to both introduce potentially new customers to Avon and Perfection products and to increase orders with previous customers.
1936 National advertising campaign starts in Good Housekeeping magazine.
1937, 20 January David H. McConnell Sr. dies at his home in Suffern, New York at age 78.  Obituary
1937, 5 February David H. McConnell Jr. becomes President of the CPC.
1937, 25 May CPC moves to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York.
1939, 17 July Los Angeles Branch Office and Distribution Point Opens.
1939, October 6 The California Perfume Company changes its name to Avon Products Inc.
1957 The California Perfume Company is removed from the list of subsidiaries of the Avon Products, Inc. in their 1957 Annual Report.

Fancy California Perfume Company Eureka Trademark

The historic information above was gleaned from California Perfume Company business records, catalogs, representatives periodicals, customer brochures, newspapers, and Good Housekeeping magazines. I offer a big Thank You to the Hagley Museum and Library for their support of my research. The Hagley Museum now maintains the Avon Archives.

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